This week, 18.3 million Americans tuned in to network television to watch the reboot of Roseanne. To put those numbers in perspective, it may help to know that more people watched the new Roseanne than watched the final episode of the original show more than twenty years ago, in 1997, when people still watched television, back before social media or widespread use of the Internet.
Those numbers are huge. In our era, meaning the past decade, or even decade and a half, they are unprecedented. What matters more is that an audience that size is literally the only thing that could catch the attention of the top decision-makers in the culture industry. Those numbers represent the potential size of the threat to the bottom line of their business, if they choose to ignore them—and the size of the potential profits if they meet them head on, in a way that the audience judges to be at least half-way fair.
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